Global recruitment takes me to many conferences around the world. A topic that I am hearing more about is the selection process for recruitment clients and firm client mix. While many recruiters chase profits from any client willing to do business with their firm, other global recruitment companies are targeting the “right type” of client over just any client willing to accept their bid.
Last month in Australia, I was introduced to Edge Personnel’s story of client selection. “The Brief,” a publication of the RCSA had a two-page article with the complete story from the Managing Director Craig Batchelor.
Edge Personnel, like many firms, had grown to a point that just two recruitment clients represented sixty percent of the total business. Edge made the difficult decision to change the business mix by shedding those two clients to get back to the values envisioned when starting the business. This decision, both difficult and courageous, required the full understanding and support of staff. As the Managing Director, Craig made sure he was transparent with his staff about the process they would undergo. The result was a return to focus on Edge Personnel’s core market of small to medium size businesses, and the improved margins and fun associated with working a better mix of clients. Inspiring recruiters is a challenge, but maintaining inspiration when driven by the routine of two major clients with substantial and repetitive needs was impossible. Edge got through to the brighter side of recruitment, but not without some difficult months in transition.
How many have carefully examined their client list to see if it represents the right-fit recruitment clients? Can you motivate and inspire staff with just one or two key clients that basically “own” you? Have you sacrificed and limited your capabilities to perform the same job fill over-and-over again for the same client? Have you become a one-trick pony completing the same function repeatedly? Are your employees inspired, or just going through the paces? Have you limited your profitability based on client mix? Can you increase recruitment profits by altering your client mix? Are you vulnerable to financial crisis if one or two clients suddenly opt for a lower cost provider? Are you prepared to suffer and feel the pain in the short-term for a healthier and better long-term existence for you and your staff?
Much to think about in these questions. The reality is that many firms chase volume over fit. If your business is built on a volume model and you are constantly working to improve process and increase margin with better process to support volume accounts, then perhaps you are on the right path. If you started your recruitment business to serve the small and mid-market and have evolved to chasing large-bid tenders, then perhaps it is time to reevaluate what has happened.
In either case, I suggest you be intentional and purpose-driven. Look at your charter, strategic plan or model. It is worth doing a recruitment client evaluation once every couple of years to see if you are off the mark you established on the way into this business. A great way to get started was shared in the article about Edge Personnel. The Managing Director asked all the employees to write down on a piece of paper what they told people who asked what they did for work. If you find those descriptions miserable, maybe it is time to inspire recruiters once again?